EAGLE — Vail and Beaver Creek won the bid to host the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships for the third time in 2015, and now it’s time to put some money down.
This week, Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz asked Eagle County commissioners for funding and in-kind contributions to pull off the international event in 2015.
“Our budget is $58 million, with $36 million coming from television rights, so that leaves $22 million for us to raise,” said Folz, who has been involved with all three FIS championships hosted by Vail andBeaver Creek in 1989, 1999 and now 2015.
Commissioners made no promises on what Eagle County will contribute, but said they will take the request into consideration as they head into the annual budgeting process.
“Now is not a good time to make any commitments,” said Commissioner Sara Fisher.
The Foundation is asking the county to contribute $100,000 in cash over the next two years plus in-kind marketing and operational support. There is also the question of security measures, which Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy roughly estimated to cost $100,000 after the commissioners pressed him for a figure.
“There are still a lot of moving parts,” he said. “I anticipate a budgetary impact, but I don’t have a dollar amount yet since I’m not sure how many people we’ll need — maybe $100,000? — and that’s just the starting point.”
Folz said the bombings at the Boston Marathon affected security considerations.
“Boston really changed it for us and was a setback,” she said.
Folz said the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships is considered to be as important, or even more important, than the Olympics among Europeans.
“The same number of athletes compete as in the Olympics, and the medals are just as important to them,” she said. “Europeans think it’s funny how Americans are so focused on the Olympics.”
Seventy countries will be represented at the event and it is expected to draw 800 million TV viewers and 140,000 on-site spectators.
It is estimated that $3.8 million will be generated in county-wide tax revenues and that there will be an economic impact in the county of more than $100 million.
“This is an enormous opportunity to spread the word about what a great valley this is,” Folz said.
Folz said a particular message she is trying to spread right now is that the event is very spectator friendly.
“People have avoided the event in the past thinking it was going to be too crowded and that hotels would be too expensive, and that’s not the case,” she said. “Our goal is to have 100 percent occupancy in 2015.”
Folz said a new racecourse for the women has been designed to rival the men’s challenging Birds of Prey course.
“We officially named the new course the Raptor, and it is the most difficult in the world,” she said.
And of course two of Vail’s favorite female skiers — Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, both of whom have ties to the valley — will add to the excitement of 2015, and possibly in more ways than skiing.
“We’ve asked to have Lindsey Vonn’s voice welcome everyone when passengers get on the train,” Folz said.
The championships are not just a Vail thing, either, Folz added.
“These are Colorado’s world championships,” she said. “This has been called the most important event in the last 10 years and in the next 10 years.”